May 20, 2022
Last Saturday, racist and horrifying violence took the lives of ten people in Buffalo who were just trying to make a living for their families or to get some shopping errands done. It injured three other persons as well, along with traumatizing many more. The trauma extends to the Diocese of Syracuse where this Saturday a Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Assumption Church for one of our own parishioners and a victim of the shooting, Ms. Roberta A. Drury. Our hearts and deepest sympathy and prayers go out to Roberta’s family and friends, as well as, to all the victims’ families and loved ones. We hold close in prayer also all those who were injured and all those who witnessed and are affected by such unconscionable violence.
As a local church, we are deeply disturbed also that the alleged perpetrator of this heinous crime is an 18-year-old from the Southern Tier of our diocese. Where from or wherein is such hatred and violence being brought forth as to export such unconceivable crimes against the sacredness of the human person no matter gender, color, or creed?
I wish to remind all Catholics of the grave sin that racism is and the ever present need to eradicate from both our society and nation. In 2020, the US Catholic Bishops issued the document, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love – A Pastoral Letter Against Racism.” In it the bishops reiterated the Church’s teaching on racism: “Racism is evil because it attacks the inherent dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. The persistence of racism demands our attention now. Racism emerges in the actions and inactions of individuals; and it is embedded in our institutions and public policies. Our faith calls us both to personal conversion and to transformation of our society.”
The events of last Saturday in Buffalo which could have been easily exported to other places according to news reports, highlights the great urgency and need that can no longer wait in addressing both structural racism and prejudices to be found not only in American society, but even more sadly in Church communities. This past Sunday in many Christian churches, the gospel reading was John 13:31-35 in which Jesus gives to his disciples a new commandment: “love one another” (Jn 13:34). It concludes with Jesus saying: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).
As I asked at the end of my homily on Sunday: “Where in your life…where in my life…is God asking us to love with more intention?” I ask those who read these words to take this question to heart; so that together we can eradicate any racism, prejudice, and racial discrimination from our church communities, but even more from the nation that claims to be “one nation under God.”
Let us not forget that in God “all find their home” (Ps 87) and that everyone belongs!